Adam Sandler remembers Joe Flaherty as ‘genius of a comedian’ after death age 82

The actor got his start on sketch comedy show Second City Television (SCTV) alongside stars including Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, and Eugene Levy.

Adam Sandler and John Francis Daley were among the co-stars remembering US actor and comedian Joe Flaherty, known for his roles in Happy Gilmore and Freaks And Geeks, following his death age 82.

Flaherty, who got his start on the sketch comedy show Second City Television, later known as SCTV Network, alongside stars including Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short and Eugene Levy, died on Monday after a “brief illness”, it has been reported.

A statement from his daughter Gudrun given to US outlet Variety said Flaherty had faced “health challenges” in the past few months, although his cause of death was not disclosed.

Among those remembering him was Hollywood actor Sandler, who played the title role in the 1996 comedy film Happy Gilmore, alongside Flaherty, who played a memorable role as Donald – a heckler who taunts the titular golf player (Sandler).

“Oh man. Worshipped Joe growing up. Always had me and my brother laughing. Count Floyd, Guy Caballero. Any move he made,” Sandler said, sharing a series of pictures of the actor on Instagram.

“Couldn’t be more fun to have him heckle me on the golf course. The nicest guy you could know. Genius of a comedian. And a true sweetheart. Perfect combo.

“Much love to his kids and thanks to Joe for all the greatness he gave us all.”

While Freaks And Geeks co-star John Francis Daley, who played Sam Weir, the on-screen son of Flaherty who played Harold Weir in the 1999 TV series, also paid tribute on X, formerly Twitter.

“Joe Flaherty made me crack up so hard it ruined takes. My favourite days on set were the ones where we had scenes together. What a lovely guy,” he said.

Freaks And Geeks creator Paul Feig also said he was “so sad” to hear of Flaherty’s death – describing him as “my TV dad and a true comedy hero”.

“Always happy to tell any story about your favourite SCTV sketch, he was just the greatest guy. I will truly miss him and always be grateful to have known him. Rest in comedy, Joe,” Feig added on X.

Born in Pennsylvania, Flaherty was a writer and performer on SCTV.

He became known for his celebrity impressions and a myriad of characters, including Guy Caballero, Big Jim McBob, and Count Floyd.

He won two Emmy awards in 1982 and 1983, both for outstanding writing in a variety or music program.

After eight years on SCTV, Flaherty was cast in the teen comedy-drama Freaks And Greeks – which launched the careers of several young actors, including James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel.

Other TV show and film credits for Flaherty include appearing as the Western Union courier in Back to the Future II.

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